Asked by MUTV after the game whether he would like to return on loan to Alaves next season, the Uruguayan replied ‘I would like to stay here.’
????️ Facundo Pellistri on if he wants to go back on loan to Alaves: "I would like to stay here." [MUTV]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) July 18, 2021
The comment showed an ambition and determination that was as impressive as his on-pitch performance.
However, also asked about the 19-year-old’s future, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer soon burst the Manchester-based balloon that the starlet was inflating.
‘I can see a loan deal for him, there’s been loads of interest and for his best interests would be what we look for,’ he said.
Solskjaer on Pellistri: "I can see a loan deal for him, there's been loads of interest + for his best interests would be what we look for."#MUFC
— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) July 18, 2021
With the imminent arrival of Jadon Sancho and other right wing options such as Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Amad Diallo and Juan Mata, it is easy to understand why the manager was quick to dismiss the idea of Pellistri staying to fight for his place.
But yesterday’s cameo should make United think long and hard about what they do next in terms of the player’s future.
Alaves finished 16th in la Liga last season, with a goal difference of -21. They are not a team that spends much time on the attack, and that fact alone limits Pellistri’s ability to contribute as much as he would in a more successful side.
As his Sofascore stats show, Pellistri only made five starts for Alaves, with seven other appearances off the bench, and averaged just 17.9 touches. His heatmap centres strongly around the halfway line, typical of a winger for a side with fewer attacking opportunities than a top half team.
If Pellistri is to go on loan again, it needs to be to a team which can offer him more starts and more opportunities to express himself.
Having had several months to improve his English, the Championship might be a more viable option than it was last time around, but it is a very physically demanding competition for the diminutive 19-year-old.
Ligue 1 in France or the Bundesliga could be options but this would involve another upheaval and another new language for the young Uruguayan to master.
So although Solskjaer seems adamant that his starlet will go back out on loan, there is perhaps an argument to wait and see before making such a decision. Some of those other right wing options, notably James and Amad, could also be loaned out – or in James’ case, even sold – and if that left Pellistri just behind Sancho and Greenwood in the pecking order, then he might be able to get the opportunities he needs at home and benefit from being brought on by the coaches of one of the world’s best clubs at top of the draw training facilities, working alongside some of the world’s best players in training.
Solskjaer has often been criticised for not using his squad enough and if the intention this term is for Greenwood to move more central and act as Cavani’s understudy, then there should be plenty of 20 -30 minute right wing substitute appearances, plus cup matches, that are up for grabs as Sancho is rested and protected.